The U.S. Senate passed the American Rescue Plan Act in a 50-49 vote on March 6. The bill aims to provide additional COVID-19 economic relief, including expanded federal unemployment benefits and small-business aid.
Employers are waiting to see whether the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will issue guidance requested by President Joe Biden clarifying that workers who refuse unsafe working conditions can still receive unemployment insurance.
President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Jan. 22 aiming to ultimately raise the minimum wage for federal contractors and expanding access to unemployment benefits during the pandemic.
Work-share programs are a little-known state-provided benefit that subsidizes the wages of workers who are kept on the payroll with reduced hours instead of laid off. These unemployment insurance programs are in 26 states, and they are a powerful solution for many companies that are seeking ways to avoid headcount reduction and keep the workforce reasonably well-compensated during the pandemic.